There are several possible angles on this intriguing picture, depending on the age and interests of the class. Try any of the following: 1 History detective work
What does this picture tell us about life in the 17th century? What was happening around that time? Twelve years into the Stuarts (James I, 1603), Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot (1605), Galileo constructs a telescope and discovers the Earth is not the centre of the universe (1608), death of Shakespeare (1616), Mayflower arrives in America (1620), William Harvey discovers circulation of the blood (1628).
What do you think life was like in this family? Bring in a photograph of your family and write about what is similar and different. Consider clothes, number of children, hairstyles, formality (comparing with "a modern family" may be a less intrusive approach for children reluctant to discuss or write about their own relatives).
Invent captions for the mother and each of the six children (for instance, "I'll have to get some new jeans for the boys, this is ridiculous", or "I've been trying to get rid of these stupid gloves, but mum stitched them to my dress").
Make up a mystery story about the people in the picture, starting with:
"Little Lettice Tasburgh had always been the apple of her mother's eye. One day she...", or "Lady Tasburgh was cross when her husband did not turn up for the family picture. Little did she know that . . ."
Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University